Northern Ireland Running

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Northern Ireland men claim top ten spots over 100 miles:

Local men impress over tough 100 mile course:

Over the weekend (Saturday 31st October - Sunday 1st November 2015), Northern Ireland men Nicki McPeak and Ron Peacock impressed with top ten places at the White Rose Ultra in England.

The lapped route, which is known to be a tough course, started and finished in the town of Golcar. Both Nicki and Ron, who are well known within the local ultra-running scene, completed the 100 miles in 23:10:00; Nicki took 8th place, while Ron finished in 9th place.  The race was won by Irene Kinnegim in 18:30:00 (1st place).

Full Results:  White Rose 100 mile Ultra 2015 Results

Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth enjoy success at IPC World Championships:

NI men enjoy success in Doha (by Athletics NI):

Six times World IPC athletics champion Michael McKillop added to his World Championships medal haul with yet another gold in the T37 1500m final in Doha over the weekend.

The 25 year old Belfast man who has mild cerebral palsy showed the opposition the way home for a comfortable victory in a time of 4:16.19 (1st place).  Michael had a commanding five seconds victory margin over silver medallist Brad Scott (Australia) who was timed at 4:21.12 (2nd place). Bronze went to Madjid Djemai of Algeria (3rd place - 4:29.94). 


Michael's time is almost identical to his victory in last year's European Championships in Swansea.  Notably, the NI man ran a Championship record time of 4:10.17 in the World Championships in Lyon (France) two years ago.

Michael adopted a cautious approach in final, running the first 800 metres behind Scott who ran even laps of 71 seconds.  This was mainly because the St Malachy's AC man was far from 100% fit following a series of injuries this year which resulted in only nine weeks proper training prior to Doha.  However he upped the tempo significantly in the third lap which he completed in 65 seconds.  After this clear break the only issue was the size of his winning margin.  

Afterwards a relieved Michael, who had earlier taken gold in the 800 metres said; "It is brilliant to win gold again.  I had a plan and went with 500 metres to go.  Brad did brilliantly but I got away from him. I kicked with 400 metres to go. I knew I wasn't fit enough to go from the gun or even go with 2 laps left. However in this race I had beaten everyone in the field and I knew I could do it. These are two finals and two perfect results."

Michael will be hugely relieved that he has repeated his double World gold medal feat in Doha which he previously achieved in Lyon and New Zealand. He was particularly pleased to have won a titanic struggle in the 800 metres last week when he took gold with a mere one second victory margin.

This has again been a hugely successful World Championship for NI athletes with Jason Smyth (Derry City Track Club) taking victory in the T13 100 metres for visually impaired athletes.  Both Michael and Smyth will now be taking time out before commencing their preparations for next summer's Paralympic Games in Rio.

NIMRA announce 2016 Podium 4 Sport NIMRA Championship fixtures:

Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) announce 2016 Championship fixtures:

Alongside the list of annual mountain running fixtures, the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) organises the Podium 4 Sport NIMRA Championship.  This is a nine race Series, with each athlete's best five races counting towards their final Championship score.

To count in the Championship, athletes must be a NIMRA member and complete at least one race in each of the distance categories listed below - short, medium and long.



  • Glenariff (Saturday 12th March 2016)
  • The second short race will be Hill & Dale race (details to be confirmed)
  • Slieve Bearnagh (Saturday 20th August 2016)



  • The Fallows (Saturday 23rd April 2016) 
  • Flagstaff to Carlingford (Sunday 19th June 2016)
  • Commedagh Chase (Saturday 1st October 2016)



  • Annalong Horseshoe (Saturday 7th May 2016)
  • Spelga Skyline (Saturday 2nd July 2016)
  • Seven Sevens (Saturday 30th July 2016)  TBC                 


For further information about the above races or any other NIMRA race please contact Anne Sandford on 07779 254808 or email: [email protected] - Keep up to date with all the latest NIMRA information on their official website HERE.

Nearly 200 athletes turn out for Sperrin Harriers Winter League opener:

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series – Race 1 (Davagh Forest 10k):
On Saturday 31st October 2015, nearly two hundred athletes turned out for the opening race of the annual Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series.  The race was held in Davagh Forest and covered a tough 10k route, 3k on the forest’s ‘green trail’ and 7k on the ‘blue trail’.

In perfect weather conditions, it was local athlete Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) who impressed most, eventually clocking 37:11 for 1st place.  The next competitor home, a few seconds later, was Christopher Devine (Newry City Runners) in 37:22 (2nd place), while Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) completed the top three in 38:11 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, up and coming talent Emma Rice (Unattached) from Dungannon claimed a notable victory in her first Davagh Forest 10k, crossing the line in 45:54 (1st place). Emma was closely tailed all the way round the course by Sperrin Harriers’ Angela O’Neill who recorded 46:16 for 3rd place, while Sharon Harvey of Ballymena Runners secured 3rd place in 47:18.

Top 3 Men:  1st Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) – 37:11, 2nd Christopher Devine (Newry City Runners) – 37:22, 3rd Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) – 38:11

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Emma Rice (Unattached) – 45:54, 2nd Angela O’Neill (Sperrin Harriers) – 46:16, 3rd Sharon Harvey (Ballymena Runners) – 47:18

William McKee and Laura Graham excel at Mourne Runners - MMRT event:

Run 4 Rescue 2015:

On Saturday 31st October 2015, approximately one hundred runners turned out to support the annual Mourne Runners ‘Run 4 Rescue’ event in Annalong, County Down. The well-organised event, which offered participants the choice of a 10 mile or 4 mile race, was held as a fundraiser for the highly valued Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.

Perfectly described by a representative of Mourne Runners as an excellent way to get into the mountains without having to negotiate their harsh terrain, the event covered a tough but scenic route, starting at sea-level in Annalong before taking in road and coastal trail sections – athletes then took on a continuous climb towards Dunny Water, where they turned and made their way back towards the finish at the local Community Centre, located on the edge of a pleasant green area beside the sea.

Almost as soon as the athletes left the slipway start line, Mourne Runners man William McKee moved to the head of the pack and gradually increased the distance between himself, Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) and the chasing trio of Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Ryan Monaghan (Slieve Gullion Runners) and last night’s East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k winner Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC).  By the 3 mile marker, where the athletes moved off the picturesque coastal trail, William had built a significant lead, with Neil approximately forty seconds behind and Clive, Ryan and Justin a further thirty seconds back – this group also included the leading lady, AAI National Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners).

Laura’s lead at the front of the ladies pack was approximately three minutes and even at this early stage, it looked as if she had secured the win, of course, barring any mishaps.  This took nothing away from what was an excellent ladies event, because behind, three or four athletes were chasing the remaining two podium places.  At 3 miles, it was Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) who occupied second and third place.

As the race progressed, both William McKee and Neil Carty further cemented their respective first and second places and eventually confirmed them in outstanding fashion, with William clocking an impressive 57:31 (1st place) for victory and Neil following in 1:00:39 (2nd place). Behind, the ever improving Ryan Monaghan moved clear of Clive and Justin to secure 3rd place in 1:03:59.

Laura Graham continued what has been an excellent ten days - following her podium places at the Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR and the AAI National Marathon Championships, the Kilkeel lady broke the tape in 1:04:55 (1st place).  In the most exciting finish of the day, Lagan Valley AC’s mountain running international Hazel McLaughlin just pipped Ballydrain Harriers’ Masters XC international Amanda Perry to the runners up prize, with Hazel running 1:13:56 (2nd place) and Amanda 1:13:58 (3rd place).

In the associated 4 mile event, East Down AC youngster James Smyth produced a dominant performance to lead the field home comfortably, while the host club’s Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) secured the ladies title.

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 57:31, 2nd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:00:39, 3rd Ryan Monaghan (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 1:03:59

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:04:55, 2nd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:13:56, 3rd Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) – 1:13:58

Full Results:  Run 4 Rescue 10 mile Race 2015 Results and Run 4 Rescue 4 mile Race 2015 Results - Photos from the Run 4 Rescue event are now available within our Photo Gallery.

Don Travers and Roisin Hughes win Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k:

Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k:

Also on Saturday 31st October 2015, events management company Born 2 Run welcomed nearly six hundred athletes from across the province to the opening race of their ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Minnowburn 10k.  The scenic route will took competitors around the forest trails and paths which surround the home of Athletics Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track.

Newry City Runners athlete Don Travers (Newry City Runners), a regular podium finisher at Born 2 Run events produced an excellent performance to claim the headlines.  Following an excellent battle with North Belfast Harriers duo Brendan Grew and Kent Swann, the Northern Ireland international secured victory in 36:06 (1st place). Brendan crossed the line in 36:18 for 2nd place, while Kent completed the podium in 36:35 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) continued her return to full fitness with a strong outing.  Roisin clocked 42:08 (1st place) for victory and was followed onto the mondo track and into the finish by pre-race favourite Niamh Kellett, who recorded 42:50 for 2nd place.  Kyla Henderson (Club Unknown) finished in 44:17 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – 36:06, 2nd Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:18, 3rd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:35

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) – 42:08, 2nd Niamh Kellett (East Down AC) – 42:50, 3rd Kyla Henderson (Club Unknown) – 44:17

Full Results:  Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k 2015 Results (Photo taken from Belfast Telegraph website)

Justin Maxwell and Allyson O'Toole secure Monster Dash titles:

East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k:

On Friday 30th October 2015, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on Carnfunnock Country Park in Drains Bay, just outside Larne, for the 2nd annual East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k trail race and associated Monster Mile.

After the host club’s Kelly Patterson and Rhys McManus had claimed victory in their respective categories in the Monster Mile, it was the turn of the nearly one hundred strong field to take to the start line of the Monster Dash 5k.  The event, despite its fun Halloween theme, is a competitive affair and takes athletes on a tough but rewarding course within Carnfunnock Country Park and the adjoining Carnfunnock Forest, with only head torches to guide the way.

At the front end of the field, East Coast AC trio Justin Maxwell, Murray Deller and Mark McManus, and Annadale Striders’ Conor McMullan all played their part.  However, in the end, it was Northern Ireland and Ireland international Justin Maxwell who sealed victory, crossing the line in a new course record of 21:23 (1st place). Murray Deller, the winner in 2014, showed no signs of fatigue following a good run at last week’s Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, recorded 22:16 for 2nd place, with Mark McManus completing the podium places in 22:31 (3rd place).

The ladies race was also close in the early stages, with very little splitting Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) and reigning Champion Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC). After an excellent dual, it was Allyson who came out on top, defending her title in 25:16 (1st place). Sarah-Jane took a well-deserved 2nd place in 25:36. In a photo finish, Caitlyn Harvey (Unattached) was awarded 3rd place after finishing side by side with friend Amy Edwards (Lagan Valley AC); both ladies clocked 26:44 for the distance.

Top 3 Men:  1st Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 21:23, 2nd Murray Deller (East Coast AC) – 22:16, 3rd Mark McManus (East Coast AC) – 22:31

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) – 25:16, 2nd Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) – 25:36, 3rd Caitlyn Harvey (Unattached) – 26:44

Full Results:  East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k 2015 Results

Conan McCaughey and Claire Annan impress in Spooky Enniskillen:

Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k:

On Friday 30th October 2015, a record number of athletes took to the start line of the popular 'Spooktacular 5k' road race in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.  The event, hosted by Enniskillen Running Club, covered a flat and fast two lap course based in and around the town centre.

Enniskillen Running Club’s own Conan McCaughey deservedly stole the headline.  After having to settle for the runners up spot in 2014, Conan, roared on by his hometown crowd, powered to victory in an excellent 15:41 (1st place); this was twenty seconds quicker than his finishing time twelve months ago. Clonliffe Harriers’ Tudor Muldovan followed in 15:55 (2nd place), while Shane Brady (Clones AC) completed the top three in 16:43 (3rd place).

In a fiercely contested ladies race, with Claire Annan (Carrick-on-Suir AC) and Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) battling it out right up until the line.  In the end, Claire just saw off the stern challenge of the returning Patricia to take top spot in 18:47 (1st place).  Patricia crossed the line one second later in 18:48 (2nd place), before Carla Prentice (Unattached) secured 3rd place in 20:26 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 15:41, 2nd Tudor Muldovan (Clonliffe Harriers) – 15:55, 3rd Shane Brady (Clones AC) – 16:43

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Claire Annan (Carrick-on-Suir AC) – 18:47, 2nd Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) – 18:48, 3rd Carla Prentice (Unattached) – 20:26

Full Results:  Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k 2015 Results (Photo above by Paul Carron)

Weekend Preview:  A Spooktacular weekend of action ahead...

Weekend Preview:  A Spooktacular weekend of action ahead…

As the dust settles on what was a busy and exciting week, with our own Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, the Dublin Marathon and also the NI & Ulster Age Group Championships (and Bobby Rea XC) all showcasing excellent performances by local athletes, it’s now time to look ahead to another few days of competition.  

Our weekend preview will cover a couple of ‘Halloween specials’ as well as Mourne Runners’ Run 4 Rescue, Born 2 Run’s Minnowburn 10k and the charitable King of Gullion 10k. Two local athletes will also be in competition over 100 miles, which we’ll also look at.


East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k:

The weekend action will kick off tonight (Friday 30th October 2015) in Drains Bay, just outside Larne, when local club East Coast AC host their 2nd annual Monster Dash 5k, which also includes a Monster Mile event for junior athletes.  Despite the fun side of this event, with prizes given for best fancy dress, this is very much a competitive affair, with athletes taking on a tough and at times technical trail course within the confines of Carnfunnock Country Park and Carnfunnock Forest, with only their head torches to guide the way.


In 2014, it was the host club’s Murray Deller and Allyson O’Toole who led the way – the talented pair will return to defend their titles, with both having shown good form recently.  Just last week, Murray finished well up the field at the gruelling Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, while a week before that, Allyson powered herself to international selection at the NIMAA XC.  

In the men’s race, Murray will face competition from club mates Chris Davis and Alex Robertson as well as Seapark AC’s Gary Connolly and Larne AC’s Gabriel Rodgers.  David Allen (Albertville Harriers) and junior star Charlie Patterson (East Coast AC) will also run well.  In the ladies, Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) and Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) will contend the podium places alongside the aforementioned Allyson. Ballymena & Antrim AC duo Ashlynn Rodgers and Michaela Rodgers will also claim top ten places.


Spooktacular 5k:

Also tonight (Friday 30th October 2015), Enniskillen Running Club’s Spooktacular 5k road race is expected to attract in excess of five hundred competitors as organisers pull out all the stops to ensure that this year’s edition will be the biggest and best Spooktacular yet.  The race, which starts at the Diamond at 7.30pm and finishes back on the Main Street, is set once again to be hotly contested.


If local man Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) takes to the start line, he’ll prove hard to beat, especially if his home town spectators get behind him on what is an atmospheric town centre based route.  Another man to watch out for is Omagh Harriers’ Paul Barbour – Paul recorded 16:10 at the Marty Gallagher 5k earlier this month, a time that would have seen him claim a podium place her twelve months ago.  Armagh AC’s Shane Brady and Gary Henderson and North Belfast Harriers trio Simon Reeve, Kent Swann and Martin Cox will all play a part at the front if they race.

The ladies race will see the return of one of the provinces top female athletes, St Peters AC's Patricia O’Hagan (pictured above).  After dabbling with parkrun events since the summer, Patricia will lace up her racers for the first time in approximately one year (after having a baby) and should go well – there is no pressure on the exceptionally talented athlete here, but she will play a prominent part in proceedings.  Helen Stockdale (Derry City Track Club), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Enniskillen Running Club pair Tara Malone and Karen Dolan will also battle it out for places on the podium.

As well as prizes for the first three male and female runners across the line, there will be a host of prizes in the male and female Under 18, Over 40, Over 50 and Over 60 categories. There is a bumper prize fund of over £1,000 and the first 500 entries will receive technical t-shirts, as well as flashing LED armbands, which will add to the spectacle.  The event will be fully chip-timed and there will be plenty of post-race soup and stew at the prize-giving afterwards at Race HQ in Pat’s Bar.  In keeping with the Halloween theme, there will also be prizes for the runners wearing the best fancy dress costumes.

Run 4 Rescue 10 mile and 4 mile Races:

On Saturday 31st October 2015, one of Northern Ireland’s top mountain running clubs, Mourne Runners, will host their annual Run 4 Rescue event in Annalong.  Proceeds from the entries will go to the highly respected and valued Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.  Unlike the usual Mourne Runners events, this race will not incorporate open mountain racing, but will instead cover an excellent road and trail based course, offering participants the option of a 10 mile race or a shorter 4 mile event.

North Belfast Harriers man Andrew Annett will start as pre-race favourite if he makes use of the on the day entry system.  Andrew’s road speed accompanied by his strength on the climbs will make him hard to beat.  In saying that, Mourne Runners’ own Gary Bailey has been in superb form of late – arguably the highlight of his year was a seventh place finish at last week’s Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.  Fellow Mourne Runners men Richard Hanna, Richard Bell, Dale Mathers and Clive Bailey will all aim for top ten places if they compete, while Newcastle AC’s Deon McNeilly will continue his return to competition following injury.

The ladies race could see an excellent battle between 2014 Champion Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) and the in-form Laura Graham (Mourne Runners).  Karen secured a comfortable win last year but will find it tougher going if Laura toes the line, as long as the Killkeel lady has recovered sufficiently from her heroic performance at the Dublin Marathon, where she picked up at bronze medal in the AAI National Marathon Championships. Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) may also compete.

Entries for the Run 4 Rescue 10 mile and 4 mile races are available on the day.  For more details on the event, please click HERE.

Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k:

Also on Saturday 31st October 2015, events management company Born 2 Run will welcome athletes from across the province to the opening race of their ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Minnowburn 10k.  The scenic route will take competitors around the forest trails and paths which surround the home of Athletics Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track.

Almost six hundred athletes will take to the start line of the Series opener, but at the front, it could be North Belfast Harriers man Brendan Grew who sets the pace.  Brendan will know this course well and despite being joined on the start line by the likes of Gavin Campbell (Unattached) and Danny Fagan (Armagh AC) he should lead the way.  Ballydrain Harriers’ Richard Coey and North Belfast Harriers men Conor Curran and Martin Rea may also be tempted by the event, while Stuart Paulin (Unattached) could also return to competition.

In the ladies race, East Down AC’s Niamh Kellett will be amongst the front runners.  Given her recent good performances, Niamh will be keen to place well. She will, barring any late entries.  However, Niamh will have to see off the likes of 2014 podium finishers Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) and Janice Plumb (North Belfast Harriers), as well as Gillian Abraham (Unattached) and Seapark AC’s Gillian Cordner, who will take on her second race in less than 24 hours.

White Rose Ultra – 100 miles (England):

In England on Saturday 31st October 2015, Northern Ireland men Nicki McPeak and Ronald Peacock will take on the gruelling White Rose 100 mile race in Golcar, near Huddersfield in England.  The route consists of 3 x 30 mile loops with 10 miles put in at the start of the race.  The pair should finish well up the field.

King of Gullion 10k:

On Sunday 1st November 2015, a large number of athletes are expected to descend on Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh for the King of Gullion 10k trail race, which is run in aid of Southern Area Hospice.  The tough but rewarding route follows recognised trails towards the summit of Slieve Gullion, starting and finishing close to the Forest Park’s impressive Café and Courtyard Area.

In 2014, this event attracted over one hundred participants and organisers will be hoping for similar numbers once again.  Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) was the star of the show at last week’s Bobby Rea XC and will no doubt be the man to beat once again if he decides to take on this challenge.  Another athlete who could play a part is Newry City Runners man Don Travers, presuming he has recovered from a bad fall at the Causeway Coast Marathon.  In the ladies race, Anne Havern (Newry City Runners), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Rita Devlin (Newcastle AC) should all be in the mix.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Laura Graham secures AAI National medal at Dublin Marathon 2015:

Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2015:

On Monday 26th October 2015, hundreds, if not thousands of athletes from Northern Ireland made the cross-border journey to Dublin for the 36th annual Dublin City Marathon, which also incorporated the AAI National Marathon Championships. This year saw the event once again stretch it’s participant records, with over 15,000 competitors taking to the start line.

Despite the wet and at times blustery conditions, there was numerous notable performances by local athletes.  None more so than that of Mourne Runners new girl Laura Graham – Laura went into the event in good form and in high spirits after a podium finish at the Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR on Friday night and showed no signs of fatigue as she powered to a massive new 26.2 mile personal best of 2:56:21.

This not only secured 13th place overall, but more importantly, it saw the Kilkeel lady take 3rd place in the AAI National Marathon Championships. Laura explained, “I thought today went well, especially given the blustery conditions.  I went out with the aim of getting as close to the 3 hour mark as I could, so I’m delighted to have come in just under that.  To be honest, I haven’t even had time to think about the National podium place, but I do know that I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends.  Well done to everyone out there today!”

Laura wasn’t the only local athlete to impress, with County Tyrone based Project Africa athletes Gideon Kimosop and Daniel Tanui taking 7th place and 8th place respectively.  Gideon clocked 2:18:18, with Daniel following thirty seconds later in 2:18:48.  There was also impressive outings for North Belfast Harriers’ Tommy Simmons, who recorded 2:44:17 and Foyle Valley AC’s Mark Long (2:47:06).  Newcastle AC’s Patrick Higgins, a podium finisher at the Rathlin Run in August, crossed the line in 2:49:13, while East Down AC’s Brendan Teer fought bravely towards the end to finish in 2:51:48.  Shane McSherry (Armagh AC) looked strong as he completed the 26.2 mile route in 2:53:29, while Paul Thompson (Springwell Running Club) and Brian Taggart (Sperrin Harriers) finished in 2:53:53 and 2:53:56 respectively.

Ballydrain Harriers man Nigel Kelly led his club mate’s home in 2:55:32 and was followed less than thirty seconds later by Niall Farquharson (Beechmount Harriers) in 2:56:00.  Other local athletes who dipped under the three hour barrier included:  Derek Somerville (Omagh Harriers) – 2:57:43, Peter Donnelly (City of Lisburn AC) – 2:58:01, Rory Kane (North Belfast Harriers) – 2:58:38, Jack O’Hare (Newcastle AC) – 2:58:30, Alan Strachan (Newcastle AC) – 2:58:45, Rodney Agnew (Ballymena Runners) – 2:59:15, Jim Benson (North Belfast Harriers) – 2:59:27 and Patrick Havern (Newry City Runners) – 2:59:44.

In the ladies race, several familiar faces finished around the three hour mark.  Aside from the aforementioned Laura Graham, Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) and Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) put in strong performances, with Gillian running a Springwell Running Club record of 3:03:42 and Mari crossing the line in 3:04:54

The Dublin Marathon was won by Alemu Gemechu in 2:14:01 (1st place), while Nataliya Lehankova sealed the ladies title in 2:31:08 (1st place).  In the AAI National Marathon Championships, it was Sean Hehir (2:19:47) and Pauline Curley (2:49:29) who secured gold medals.

Full Results:  Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2015 Results

Paddy Hamilton and Emma Mitchell win Bobby Rea XC:

Bobby Rea XC (inc NI & Ulster Age Group Championships):

On Saturday 25th October 2015, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on the impressive Ulster University of Jordanstown (UUJ) for the Bobby Rea Cross Country, an event which also incorporated the NI & Ulster XC Age Group Championships.

The Age Group Championships ranged from Under 10 to Under 18 and saw up and coming stars Ashleigh McArdle (Lifford Strabane AC), Boyd Russell (Olympian YC), Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Oisin Kelly (Cranford AC), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), David Smith (Letterkenny AC), Niamh Heaney (Omagh Harriers), Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers) and James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) all secure impressive wins.

It was then the turn of the Ladies and Vet60+ Men for their 5k event.  After a competitive race, it was Banbridge AC’s brilliant Emma Mitchell who secured an impressive victory.  In a close race with Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) amongst others.  Emma broke the tape in 16:49 (1st place), with Rachel Gibson following in 17:07 (2nd place).  Versatile athlete Shaleen McMurray completed the top three in 17:29 (3rd place).  Springwell Running Club’s Gerry O’Doherty was the first Vet60+ athlete home in 17:57 (1st place).

In the Men’s 8k event, which attracted 167 athletes, it was Slieve Gullion Runners’ Paddy Hamilton who excelled.  Paddy led the field home in a speedy 24:37 (1st place).  In an epic battle for the remaining podium places, it was Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) who claimed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Chris clocked 24:58, with Scott running 25:00.  Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch narrowly missed a podium spot in 25:01 (4th place), despite having set a new course record just over 12 hours earlier at the Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR.

Top 3 Men (8k Race):  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 24:37, 2nd Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 24:58, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:00

Top 3 Ladies (5k Race):  1st Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) – 16:49, 2nd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 17:07, 3rd Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) – 17:29

Full Results:  Bobby Rea XC (inc NI & Ulster Age Group XC Championships) 2015 Results (Photo above by Malcolm McCausland)

Ian Bailey and Diane Wilson crowned Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR Champions:

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2015:

On Saturday 24th October 2015, NiRunning welcomed a huge array of talent to the inaugural running of our Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race in the Mourne Mountains (Newcastle, County Down).

Alongside the athletes, Skyrunning UK Director and host of world renowned podcast 'Talk Ultra', Ian Corless, was also present.  Ian provides the following summary of the event:

Iain Bailey and Diane Wilson were the 2015 champions for the 2nd edition of the Mourne Skyline MTR, the 6th and final race in the Skyrunning UK calendar.

Considered by many to be Northern Ireland’s toughest and most challenging race, the Mourne Skyline MTR covers 35km’s with a whopping elevation gain of 3370m. Starting and finishing in the seaside resort of Newcastle, the race is now considered to be a highlight not only of the Skyrunning UK calendar but also the racing calendar in Northern Ireland.

The first edition of the race was made especially difficult with gale force winds that at time lifted runners off their feet and ‘helped’ them along the course. It looked like a repeat day was in store for the 150-runners who would tackle the 2015 edition when overnight wind and rain battered the coastline.

At 0800 leaving the promenade of Newcastle, the cold temperatures, strong winds and light rain certainly added to the trepidation of a tough day in the mountains. From the off, Dan Doherty dictated the men’s race but he was closely followed by the day’s main protagonists of Eoin Lennon, Ian Bailey, Jayson Cavill and Ally Beaven. For the ladies, Shileen O’Kane pushed the early pace ahead of Lizzie Wraith and Diane Wilson.

At the col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh, with 6.6km covered, the action started to unfold as the runners headed out on the more demanding sections of the course. Climbing the rocky and technical Slieve Meelmore, the real race started to take place but at all times the main protagonists jockeyed for position.

Iain Bailey and Diane Wilson took the respective race leads for the men and the women and this coincided with the skies clearing and the arrival of the sun. Finally, it was possible to see out across the stunning Mourne Mountains and take in the beauty this area has to offer. The sea glistened in the distance and the yellow and amber colours of the terrain provided a stunning backdrop to hard, tough and technical racing.

Overnight rain had made the course exceptionally difficult under foot and many runners commented post race how challenging it was to remain upright while descending.  Slieve Bearnagh offered one of the toughest climbs of the day and then a drop down to Hare’s Gap where the ever-present Mourne Wall then guides the runners to Slievenaglogh, Slieve Commedagh and then final push of the day up and over Slieve Donard (2788ft) before dropping all the way down from the summit to the finish line in Newcastle.

Pre race favourite Dan Doherty went to through a bad patch in these sections as he chased Iain Bailey who had a convincing lead of well over 5-minutes, “I am lacking energy and feeling tired,” Doherty shouted as he ran past hotly pursued by Ally Bevan, Eoin Lennon and Jayson Cavill. One would have thought that Doherty would not hold on to 2nd but he found the energy from somewhere!

Bevan, Lennon and Cavill contested the final podium place and it was a close battle before Lennon found that extra few percent to open up a gap. Bevan looked secure for 4th but a charging Cavill looked like he may well have upset that as he raced for the line. Bevan held off for 4th by just 7-seconds.

Pre race favourite Diane Wilson never looked back after taking over the front of the race and ran a well paced and controlled run to take victory, behind Helen Brown held off early leader Shileen O’Kane for 2nd and GB athlete Lizzie Wraith finished 4th ahead of Jaqueline Toal. “I had completely wrong shoes today,” said Wraith post race, “the descents were so slippery that I just couldn’t push the pace. I am happy though!”

Although the start of the day was a tough one many commented that the conditions after a couple of hours of running were considerably kinder than the 2014 edition when the gale force winds battered the runners, this was reflected in a new course record by Iain Bailey of 3:51:22.

A notable mention must also go to Garmin who for the first year sponsored the Mourne Skyline MTR and the input of the GPS watch brand was instrumental and securing a 30-minute program on the race for channel 4 TV. Needless to say this will be a great boost for the race, running in Northern Ireland and Skyrunning UK.  The program will be televised in November and we currently have a possible date of 8th.

Mourne Skyline MTR concluded the 2015 Skyrunning UK calendar. Just 2-years old, this series of races is now firmly becoming one of the most exciting race circuits. 2016 will see the series grow with points awarded for each race, prize money at every race and some special prizes on offer for the 2016 SKY and ULTRA champions, make sure you keep an eye on


Men:  1st Iain Bailey 3:51:22 new CR, 2nd Dan Doherty 4:04:07, 3rd Eoin Lennon 4:07:45, 4th Ally Beaven 4:10:21, 5th Jayson Cavill 4:10:28

Ladies:  1st Diane Wilson 4:33:26, 2nd Helen Brown 4:42:12, 3rd Shileen O’Kane 4:50:19, 4th Lizzie Wraith 5:04:12, 5th Jacqueline Toal 5:25:03

Full Results:  Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 Results

Seamus Lynch & Sarah McCormack retain Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR titles:

Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race (GTR) 2015:

On Friday 23rd October 2015, athletes from all over the world descended on the coastal town of Newcastle (County Down) for the beginning of an excellent weekend of 'Skyrunning' action – The Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race ('GTR') saw athletes start on Newcastle's Central Promenade, before making their way into Donard Forest and up the historic Granite Trail towards the finish at Millstone Quarry, overlooking the town. Altogether, this totalled 2 miles uphill with approximately 1,000ft of ascent.

The electric atmosphere was evident as the athletes set off along the Promenade and into the darkness.  Mourne Skyline MTR 2014 finisher Paul Navesey (Centurion Running set out fast and was joined by ‘GTR’ course record holder, newly crowned NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), amongst others. 

Ladies course record holder Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC) looked strong at the head of the ladies field, while Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Charlene Abraham (Unattached), were vying for the remaining podium places.

As the athletes began their ascent of the 1,000m long Granite Trail, Seamus Lynch began to take charge and increased his lead fairly quickly.  The always impressive had Paul Navesey and Raivis Zakis (Latvia) in pursuit, but in truth, the local man always looked a dominant force.  He powered towards the top of the Granite trail, veering right towards the picturesque Quarry finish, where he broke the tape in 15:53 (1st place).  Paul Navesey followed in 16:55 (2nd place), while Ravivis Zakis (completed the top three in 17:33 (3rd place).

Sarah McCormack yet again proved unbeatable and also exceptional over the tough course as she sealed victory in the ladies race; the Irish international, who was part of Ambleside AC’s winning relay team at the UKA Fell and Hill Running Championships last week, completed the uphill only route in 18:14 (1st place), which not only secured top honours in the ladies race, but saw Sarah take 4th place overall.  The in-form Laura Graham continued her impressive run of results as she took the runners up prize in 20:34 (2nd place) - Charlene Abraham, a third place finisher at the event twelve months ago, once again picked claimed 3rd place in 21:18 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 15:53, 2nd Paul Navesey (Centurion Running) – 16:55, 3rd Raivis Zakis (Latvia) – 17:33

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC) – 18:14, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 20:34, 3rd Charlene Abraham (Unattached) – 21:18

Full Results:  Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race (GTR) 2015 Results 

Photos above by Jayne Bell.  To see more of Jayne's photos, please visit our 'Photo Gallery'.

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes prepare for XC, road and mountain events!

Weekend Preview:  Jordanstown, Newcastle, Dublin and more...

This weekend will prove to be the busiest of the year for the NiRunning team, with our Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race taking place in Newcastle, County Down.  However, our event isn’t the only one on the local calendar in the coming days – infact, athletes will once again be spoilt for choice, with the Bobby Rea XC taking place in Jordanstown.

It would also be rude not to mention the fact that the longer weekend of events will see a mass exodus of runners to Dublin, for the annual Dublin Marathon. There will also be local representation at the Polar Marathon in Greenland.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR and GTR:

The weekend action will kick off tonight (Friday 23rd October 2015), when close to one hundred athletes will take on the Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race.  The 'GTR' is 2 mile uphill only night race, which measured 2 miles in distance and incorporates approximately 1,000ft of ascent. The unique course takes athletes from the Promenade in Newcastle, through Donard Forest and up the historic Granite Trail to Millstone Quarry.  The race starts at 7.30pm.

On Saturday 24th October 2015, a capacity field of two hundred runners will contest arguably Northern Ireland’s toughest race, the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race.  This is the 2nd annual running of the event, which has attracted athletes from in excess of fourteen different countries around the world.  The gruelling but stunning course requires athletes to cover nine of the highest peaks, finishing with the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard.  The race starts at 8am on Newcastle Promenade and covers 35k in distance, with 3,370m of ascent.

We have compiled a special preview for the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, which is available below this Weekend Preview or on the official race website at – Information for spectators is also available on the event website.  The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR will be filmed ahead of a dedicated Channel 4 programme about the race.

NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships and Bobby Rea XC:

At the Ulster University of Jordanstown (UUJ) in County Antrim, thousands of athletes and spectators will be competing in the first Age Group Cross Country Championships of the season. Categories from Under 10 to Under 18 will be represented in the Championships, with the Under 20, Senior and Masters competing in the Bobby Rea XC.

After the Junior athletes get proceedings under way, the Under 20, Senior and Masters competitors will take to the start line. The Ladies and Veteran 60+ Men will cover 5,000m while the Men’s race will consist of 8,000m of running. 

It is likely that Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), winner of the Athletics NI XC League opener in Comber, will start and should once again play a prominent part in proceedings.  

Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) should also be in the mix, while Scott Rankin should lead a strong Foyle Valley AC side, which could also include Chris McGuinness, who impressed at last week’s NIMAA XC.  The aforementioned athletes will face stiff opposition in the form NI & Ulster 10k Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers).  Conor never fails to produce quality performances and will be well in the mix here, as will the likes of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Dennis Scott (North Down AC) and Francis Marsh (North Down AC).

In the ladies race, Under 20 athlete Clodagh O’Reilly (Annalee AC) will be worth watching.  Over the last number of years the up and coming youngster has successfully worked her way through the ranks and become a star at National level.  Familiar faces Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) should also take to the start line and will be hoping to replicate the notable performances they produced in Dublin last week, where they took tenth and eleventh place respectively at the Autumn Open XC.  Banbridge AC’s Emma Mitchell will also be there or there about, while Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) and Acorns AC debutant Natalie Hall will all finish well within the top ten.  Gemma McGinty and Sarah Lindsay will head a well-represented Foyle Valley AC team.  

Polar Bear Challenge Marathon and Half Marathon (Greenland):

In Greenland on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th October 2015, Northern Ireland man Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers) will take on the Polar Bear Marathon and Half Marathon Challenge.

The marathon takes place on Saturday, starting at 9am local time (12pm GMT).  The route covers uneven gravel road, ice and even an ice cap, starting approximately 4k from the inland ice and following the gravel road onto the ice cap.  Interestingly, due to the enormous powers of nature and the general retraction of the ice cap the exact distance on the ice will only be found a couple of days before the race, but a 3k loop is the aim. The terrain is hilly all the way, with the steepest ascents being the climb coming off the aforementioned ice cap. The temperature is expected to be minus 10-15 degrees Celsius when the marathon kicks off. The following day (Sunday), the Half Marathon will start at 9am (12pm GMT) and follow a similar, but (obviously) shortened route.

Dublin Marathon:

On Monday 26th October 2015, hundreds if not thousands of athletes from Northern Ireland will take to the start line of the 36th annual Airtricity Dublin City Marathon, which is expected to attract record numbers.

In 1980 when the race started, just over 2,000 athletes took to the start line, this year it will be close to ten times that, showing the event’s status as one of the most popular marathon’s in Europe.

Amongst the local contenders search for highly placed finishes, but more importantly, personal bests, will be Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers), Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club), Mark Walker (Unattached), Sharron Sykes (Beechmount Harriers), Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers), Elle Forrest (Ballymena Runners), John Neill (Larne AC), Brian Maltman (East Coast AC), Gerard McNamara (North Belfast Harriers), Stephen Walker (North Belfast Harriers), Connor Sheridan (East Coast AC), Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC), Peter McClelland (North Belfast Harriers), Andy Liddle (East Antrim Harriers) and Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers), amongst others.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Special Preview:  Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR - Skyrunning returns to NI...

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2015:

This coming weekend, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October 2015, the eyes of the Skyrunning world will be on Northern Ireland, and in particular, the stunning Mourne Mountains, as the 2nd annual Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race once again attracts a plethora of talent from across the globe.  The event will be filmed by Channel 4 and broadcast in November 2015.

This year, world renowned producers of innovative GPS products for the recreation and wellness markets, Garmin, have come on board to support the event, which is now named, the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race. 

The exciting weekend of mountain-trail running will close the Skyrunning UK season, following on from successful events in England, Wales and Scotland, with the action kicking off at 7.30pm on Friday 23rd October 2015.  Close to 100 competitors will take on the unique ‘Granite Trail Race’ (‘GTR’), a 2 mile uphill only event, starting on Newcastle Promenade (County Down) and finishing approximately 1,000ft above sea-level at Millstone Quarry.  

The impressive field will be headed by Northern Ireland international Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and winner of the Mont Blanc 10k, Paul Navesey (Centurion Ultra Running Team).  The ladies race will include highly respected European Cross Country (team) and World Mountain Running Championship (team) medallist Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC and Ireland) who just last month secured a top ten place at the World Mountain Running Championships in Wales, finishing just ahead of former World Champion Kasie Enman (USA).  Sarah will be joined on the ‘GTR’ start line by the in-form NI & Ulster Half Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners).

On Saturday 24th October 2015, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR will see 200 hardy competitors from fourteen countries cover a gruelling but incredibly scenic and rewarding 35k course, which incorporates 3,370m of ascent.  Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, which stands at 850m above sea-level, will be the final peak, before the athletes descend quickly into the Donard Park finish area.

Although last year’s worthy Champions and course record holders, Kim Collison (England) and Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon), are unable to return to defend their titles, this year’s race will undoubtedly provide the same exciting spectacle.  There are at least thirty athletes who have represented their country at international level due to start, meaning that both the male and female fields provide incredible strength in depth.  

There really is all to play for ahead of this event, and here are some of the athletes who will be gunning for the honour of being crowned Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR Champion.

The Men:

Dan Doherty (Scott Trail Team), Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC), Jayson Cavill (Ultra Runner Store Trail Team), Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), Ally Beaven (Unattached), Iain Bailey (Newcastle AC), David Steele (Newcastle AC) and Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) look to be the strongest candidates for the podium places in a field littered with talent from across the globe. 

Irish international Dan Doherty has increased his profile considerably since stepping onto the international stage in 2011.  His 17th place finish at this year’s IAU Ultra-Trail World Championships in France cemented Dan as one of the UK and Ireland’s most respected ultra-distance athletes.  The 2013 Anglo-Irish Plate winner also impressed at the gruelling Tor Des Geants, where he worked his way through the field to move into 2nd place before a knee injury cruelly ended his race with approximately 100k to go – 12 months earlier, Dan had claimed the runners up spot at the 330k event, which includes an incredible 24,000 metres of ascent.  

Dan's Irish international team mate Paul Tierney will also go into the event high in confidence - Paul has enjoyed a successful year.  After representing Ireland at the IAU Ultra-Trail World Championships, Paul has shown good form in the mountains, but his best performance came at the Lakeland 100, where he secured a superb victory.  Scotland based Northern Ireland man Eoin Lennon has been in the form of his life since claiming the runners up spot at the Mourne Skyline MTR in 2014 – Eoin recorded 3:59:42 to finish behind Kim Collision and has went on to impress at several notable events, this includes a 4th place finish at the prestigious HOKA Highland Fling and a win at the recent Glencoe Marathon, both in Scotland.  Eoin has also shown his speedy edge with a 16:16 5k over the Summer.

Newcastle AC men Iain Bailey and David Steele, and Mourne Runners’ Sam Herron will know this course better than most.  All three will be in the mix for a high placing, but it’s Iain’s strength on the climbs that will ensure that he plays a prominent part in in the race for a podium place – he finished in 5th place at the British Championship event in the Mourne's in August.

If podium places were calculated for all of the Skyrunning UK events since the Series’ inception in 2014, Jayson Cavill would no doubt be one of the highest ranking athletes.  He (Jayson) is never off the podium and as per usual, deservedly claimed his spot there at the Salomon Glencoe Skyline event in August (2015), where he took 3rd place in the men’s race.  Steve Franklin (Totley AC), a 14th place finisher at the aforementioned Glencoe Skyline and top fifty finisher at the Mont Blanc Marathon, will finish well up the pack.  The same can be said for 2014 4th place finisher Ally Beaven; despite focusing more on his training, rather that racing recently, Ally should be there or there abouts.

Profeet UK athlete Victor Mound will also run well, as will Richard Ashton (Orion Harriers), Bjorn Verduijn (Shettleston Harriers), Barry Hartnett (Dundrum AC), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners), Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Peter Cromie (Roe Valley CC), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners).

The Ladies:

Team GB star Lizzie Wraith, a podium finisher at this year’s Dragon’s Back 200 mile race, will start as pre-race favourite. Despite the fact that Lizzie is used to covering much longer distances, it will be her ability to deal with the leg-sapping climbs and descents that may well just give her the edge.  The Lakeland 100 winner (in 2013) is excited about visiting and racing in Northern Ireland for the first time and will prove difficult to beat.  

In saying that, local hero Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), winner of the Ben Nevis Mountain Race and a podium finisher at the Mourne Skyline MTR in 2014, knows exactly what to expect and is going into the event in the form of her life.  

Newly crowned Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Champion, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), will be another athlete who will be in the thick of the action, but the local lady, who won 5 NIMRA Championship races this term, will have to see off some formidable opposition if she wishes to secure a podium spot – none more so that Mynydd Du Mountain Runners athlete and recognised international Helen Brown, who secured 14th place in the World Mountain Running Championships less than four weeks ago.  Interestingly, Helen has stepped onto the podium on three of the previous four occasions she has raced in Northern Ireland.  Arguably her best performance on these shores was a win at the Silent Valley Mountain Race in 2013, which was part of the British Fell Running Championships.

Jacqui Toal (BARF) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) enjoyed an epic dual at the 26extreme Causeway Coast Ultra last month (September 2015), with Jacqui coming through to win late on after Fran had led from the off.  The pair will resume battle here and will be joined by another highly respected ultra-distance athlete, Comrades finisher and podium regular Joanne Curran (BARF).  Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) will be one to watch – after moving to Scotland earlier this year, Aisling has shown superb improvement and less than four weeks ago, the former triathlon star impressed with a 4th place finish at the Glencoe Half Marathon last month.  Aisling will smash her 5:54:43 clocking from 2014, which saw her take 10th place in the ladies race.  

Lagan Valley AC’s Hazel McLaughlin will claim a top ten place, while Ireland based ladies Jolene Mellon (Unattached) and Elizabeth Wheeler (Unattached) will be hoping for the same.  Versatile Springwell Running Club athlete Sonia Knox will go well, as will 2:50:52 marathoner Georgia Wood (Unattached) and local ladies Taryn McCoy (BARF), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC).

Local athletes named in Irish Masters team for British & Irish XC:

Northern Ireland based athletes set to represent Ireland:

Over the weekend (Sunday 18th October 2015) a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled to Dublin (Ireland) for the Autumn Open XC in Phoenix Park, an event which also included the trials for the Irish team for the upcoming British & Irish Masters International XC, which will take place in Santry, Dublin on Saturday 14th November 2015.

Northern Ireland based athlete Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) was the star of the event, winning the ladies 8k race outright – this was enough to secure the senior Irish international a place on the strong Ladies Vet35 team, which will also include Northern Ireland’s Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC).  North Belfast Harriers’ Cathy McCourt made the Vet40 team, while Roisin Lynch (City of Derry AC) will line up as part of the Vet65 team.

There is also Northern Ireland representation in the men’s teams, with North Belfast Harriers duo Paul Elliot and Matt Shields in the Vet60 team, Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) and Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) in the Vet40 team, Beechmount Harriers’ Stuart Kennedy in the Vet45 line up and Masters regular Christy McGonagle (City of Derry AC) in the Vet70 team.

The full men’s team for the event can be found HERE, while the ladies squad is available HERE.

Newcastle AC perform well at UKA Fell & Hill Running Relay Championships:

UK Fell and Hill Running Relay Championships 2015:
On Saturday 17th October 2015, almost one thousand of the UK’s top fell runners descended on the rugged hillside village of Barley, approximately thirty miles north of Manchester in England, for the UK Fell and Hill Running Relay Championships.

Northern Ireland was well represented in the form of a number of teams from Newcastle AC, who themselves, where attending the event for the first time since 2005.  The programme of events attracted over 150 teams of 6 runners, all competing over the same course, in four different relay legs, each leg with its own particular and peculiar challenges.

By far the most popular category, with more than 100 teams taking part, was the men’s open race.  Newcastle AC registered a strong line-up with David O’Flaherty out first, followed by the pairings David Steele and Paul Carlin, then Phil Hodge and John Kelly on the navigation leg, and Seamus Lynch on the last leg.

The newly crowned Northern Ireland Mountain running Champion (Seamus) produced an excellent performance to post the fifth fastest time of the day, moving the team up by more the ten places to 19th place in 3:52:13.  In the same race, which was won by Calder Valley Fell Runners in 3:29:19 (1st place), Northern Ireland man Iain Whiteside helped his Carnethy HRC team to 11th place 3:41:17.

In the ladies open event, Vicky Canavan was on the first leg (of 7k) for the County Down club, handing over to Patricia McKibbin and Paulette Thomson in the 15k pairs leg - next on the navigation leg was Sam McNeilly and Rita Devlin; again around 15k depending on route choice.  On the fourth and final 8k leg was Debbie Kendall.  The ladies performed well and finished in 5:53:19 (28th place).  Ambleside AC won the ladies open event in 4:11:06 (1st place).

Representing their club in veterans men’s event was Pete Grant on the first leg, Colum Campbell and Jack O’Hare on the pairs leg, Deon McNeilly and Eamon McCrickard on navigational section, and PJ McCrickard on the final leg.  Like their team mates, the team produced quality performances, finishing in an excellent 4:28:26 (16th place Veteran Team).  Barrowdale Fell Runners won the veteran men’s category in 3:42:43 (1st place Veteran team).

Ann-Marie McGlynn excels as NI athletes impress at Autumn Open XC:

Autumn Open XC 2015:
On Sunday 18th October 2015, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland made the journey South to Dublin (Ireland) for the Autumn Open Cross Country, an event hosted by Clonliffe Harriers in the picturesque grounds of Phoenix Park.  The event also doubled up as the trials for the Irish Masters team for the upcoming British & Irish International, set to take place in Santry, Dublin on Saturday 14th November 2015.

There were a number of impressive performances but none more so than that of the in-form Northern Ireland based Irish International Ann-Marie McGlynn, who produced an excellent display to lead the ladies 8k race home in 29:24 (1st place).  In the same race, Finn Valley AC’s Teresa Doherty secured 3rd place in 29:53.  In the adjoining men’s event won by DSD AC’s Brandon Hargreaves (25:36), Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) both claimed top twenty finishes, with Conor running 27:04 (14th place) and Ciaran 27:19 (15th place).

Four familiar faces finished within the top ten in the Junior Men’s 5k race – the always impressive James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) took 5th place in 19:56, while Beechmount Harriers’ Christy Conlon (20:25), Banbridge AC’s Patrick McNiff (20:26) and Finn Valley AC’s Oisin Gallen (20:29) crossed the line in 8th place, 9th place and 10th place respectively.  Northern Ireland ladies Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) made sure NI was represented in the top ten of the Ladies 5k event, with Natasha narrowly missing a podium place in 18:58 (4th place) and Jessica clocking 19:23 for 10th place; another North Down AC athlete, Rachel Gibson, finished just eight seconds outside the top ten in 19:31 (11th place).

In relation to potential contenders for selection for the Ireland Masters team for the British & Irish International XC, it is hard to see selectors look beyond the aforementioned Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC), Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) and North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Elliot when deciding upon the relevant age group teams.

Full Results:  Autumn Open XC 2015 Results (8k Race and 5k Race)

NIMAA teams announced for British & Irish Masters International:

NIMAA teams announced for upcoming British & Irish Masters International:
Over the weekend (Saturday 17th October 2015), the Northern Ireland Masters Athletic Association (NIMAA) held their trials for the upcoming British & Irish Masters XC international, which will be held in Santry, Dublin (Ireland) on Saturday 14th November 2015.

The NIMAA XC proved to be a highly competitive affair, with a number of excellent performances.  Our (NiRunning) summary of the event is available further down this page. The teams are as follow, in age category order (with names in no particular order):

Vet 35:
Men:  Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers).  Reserves:  Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) and David McNeilly (Newcastle AC).

Ladies:  Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC).  Reserve:  Paula McAllister.

Vet 40:
Men:  Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Anthony Glover (Westbury Harriers), Stephen Morris (City of Lisburn AC), Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners), Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) and Gareth Briggs (Wolverhampton AC).  Reserves:  Roger Pannell (Ballydrain Harriers) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners).

Ladies:  Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) and Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club).  Reserves:  Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners).

Vet 45:
Men:  Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Phillip Tweddie (Springwell Running Club) and Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club).  Reserves:  Stephen McGrory (Annadale Striders) and Francis Tumelty (East Down AC).

Ladies:  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC).  Reserves:  Lisa Finlay (Dumfries AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC).
Vet 50:
Men:  Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC), Bernard Brady (Larne AC), James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) and Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers).  Reserves:  Matt Wray (Unattached) and Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC).

Ladies:  Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Heather Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) and Aine McNeill (Dromore AC).  Reserves:  Susanna Allen (Ballymena Runners) and Clare Connor (City of Derry AC).

Vet 55:
Men:  David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), John Patience (North Belfast Harriers), Laurence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers) and Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers).  Reserves:  David Allen (Albertville Harriers) and Robert Wilson (Willowfield Harriers).

Ladies:  Una Gavin (City of Derry AC), Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC) and Mabel McFaul (Ballymena Runners).  No Reserves.

Vet 60:
Men:  Gerry O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club), Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC), Jim Newberry (North Belfast Harriers) and Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners).  Reserves:  Brian Todd (Orangegrove AC) and Malcolm McCausland (Derry City Track Club).

Ladies:  Mary Mackin (Dromore AC), Eileen Stewart (County Antrim Harriers) and Maureen Oliver (DUB Runners).  No Reserves.

Vet 65:
Men:  Terry Aiken (North Down AC), Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC), David Nicholson (Ballymena Runners) and Charlie Maybin (Larne AC).  Reserves:  Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) and Edwin Oxlade (Unattached).

Ladies:  No Team.

Vet 70:
Men:  Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC), David Seaton (North Down AC), Fred Murdoch (NIMAA) and Jim Platt (Springwell Running Club).  Reserves:  William Doherty (Club Unknown).

Ladies:  Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners).  No Full Team and No Reserves.

Vet 75:
Men:  Drew Crawford (North Belfast Harriers) and Hugh Young (Club Unknown).  No Full Team and No Reserves.

Ladies:  No Team

The Northern Ireland Masters Association (NIMAA) team managers for the event will be Norman Bissett and Bridgeen Byrne.

Andrew Annett and Breege Connolly win GR8 Dundrum Run:

GR8 Dundrum Run:
On Saturday 17th October 2015, Murlough AC welcomed close to nine hundred competitors to their increasingly popular GR8 Dundrum Run, a challenging multi-terrain race, covering a scenic 8 mile course on road, trail, boards and sand, starting and finishing in the shadows of the Mourne Mountains in Dundrum.

In the men’s race, it was pre-event favourite Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) who took top honours.  However, that was after the ex-Mourne Runners star had enjoyed an excellent dual with former club mate Willliam McKee (Mourne Runners).  No more than six seconds split the pair as they went through 6 miles, and in the end, that margin had reduced as Andrew secured victory in 45:29 (1st place); William followed in 45:34 (2nd place).  North Belfast Harriers new boy Lindsay Gordon completed the top three in 46:02 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, it was Rio 2016 hopeful Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) who claimed the top prize.  Breege followed up her outstanding effort at the recent NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships with another fine performance as she broke the tape in 49:09 (1st place).  In-form local athlete and Mourne Runners debutant Laura Graham followed less than a minute later in 50:05 (2nd place), while Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line in 53:38 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 45:29, 2nd William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 45:34, 3rd Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) – 46:02

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 49:09, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 50:05, 3rd Martsje Hell (Mourne Runners) – 53:38

Stephen Duncan and Julie Butler excel at competitive NIMAA XC:

NIMAA Cross Country 2015:
On Saturday 17th October 2015, hundreds of athletes turned out for the annual Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Cross Country, which was held at the sun-basked DUB Road Playing Fields in Belfast.  The event doubled up as the trials for the upcoming Masters British & Irish XC International.

First off was the Ladies and Vet65+ Men for their 6k event.  In the early stages it was a close affair at the front, with Dromore AC’s ever improving Rebecca Henderson (nee Murtagh) just ahead of a strong pack, which included Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) and Beechmount Harriers duo Catherine Diver and Gerrie Short. 

As the race progressed, NIMAA veteran track medallist Julie Butler moved to the front, with Louise Smith and Rebecca Henderson just behind.  Despite the efforts of the chasing pack, they were unable to close the gap, and it was the aforementioned front running trio who filled the podium – Julie broke the tape in 22:02 (1st place), with Louise taking 2nd place in 22:11.  ‘Open’ athlete Rebecca took 3rd place in 22:20; Catherine Diver was the third veteran athlete to finish in 22:28 (4th place).  North Down AC’s always impressive Terry Aiken was the leading Men’s Vet 65+ athlete, clocking 22:56 for the distance.

The Men’s race also proved to be an superb spectacle, with Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) battling it out right up until the final fifty metres.  Behind, there was just as good a battle for third place, with Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) and Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) inseparable throughout.  In the end, it was NI & Ulster Road Relay Championship hero Stephen Duncan who claimed victory in 25:37 (1st place).  Chris McGuinness followed in 25:41, while Eamon White took 3rd place in 26:04.  Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) was the leading ‘Open’ athlete in 27:48 (21st place).

Top 3 - Ladies and Vet 65+ Men 6k Race:  1st Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 22:02, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 22:11, 3rd Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 22:20

Top 3 - Men’s 8k Race:  1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 25:37, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:41, 3rd Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:04

Weekend Preview:  Masters XC trials, GR8 Dundrum Run and more...

Weekend Preview: Masters XC trials and more…
After last week’s exciting start to the local cross country season, there will once again be plenty of attention on that particular terrain, with the Northern Ireland and Ireland trials for the upcoming British & Irish Masters XC taking place. 

Hundreds of athletes will also descend on the County Down town of Dundrum for annual GR8 Dundrum Run, while local athletes will also be in action at events in Italy and England. 

On top of this, Magherafelt Harriers will host a very worthwhile fundraiser in respect for well thought of coach and runner Francis Stewart, who continues to recover from a serious road traffic collision.  Athletes will also have the option of the Crossmaglen 10k or the Run for Oisin McGrath 5k and 10k.

Limone Xtreme - Skyrunner World Series (Italy):
Over the course of this weekend, Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2015, at least three familiar faces will be in action at the Limone Xtreme Skyrunning event in Italy, the final event before the eyes of the Skyrunning World turn to Northern Ireland for NiRunning's Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race next weekend (Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October 2015).  Mourne Runners trio Richard Bell, Gary Bailey and Sam Heron will all compete well during what will be an epic weekend of action - the race programme includes the VK (Vertical Kilometre), which covers 1,080m of ascent in just 3.7k and the 23k Limone Extreme Skyrace, which incorporates just over 2,000m of ascent.

NIMAA Cross Country:
The local action will kick off on Saturday 17th October 2015 in Belfast, at the DUB Playing Fields, where the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) will host their trials for the British & Irish Masters International XC, which will take place next month.  The event is always well attended and provides competitors with a chance to race against fellow age category athletes for the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland. 

We would expect Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan to lead the charge for top honours if he decides to compete.  The exceptionally talented athlete clocked the fastest leg at the recent NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships, which also incorporated the NIMAA Relay Championships.  Stephen will therefore start as favourite, but may find himself up against tough competition in the form of Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and England based NI man Anthony Glover (Westbury AC).  North Belfast Harriers men Neil Carty, Conor Curran and Andrew Considine may also play a part in proceedings, while Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club) and Ballymena Runners men Richard Agnew, James Turtle and Noel Connor will all be contenders if they start.

In the ladies race, Ripon Runners’ Sharon Barlow, an impressive winner here last year, will prove hard to beat if she races.  Sharon is a consistently impressive athlete and should defend her title – However, that will not stop the in-form pairing of Louise Smith and Sharon Leetch from trying to knock the England based lady off top spot.   Other ladies to look out for include Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners), Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) and Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners).
GR8 Dundrum Run:
Also on Saturday 17th October 2015, Murlough AC will welcome close to one thousand competitors to their increasingly popular GR8 Dundrum Run, a challenging multi-terrain race, covering a scenic 8 mile course on road, trail, boards and sand, starting and finishing on the Main Street in Dundrum.

Both the men’s and ladies fields boast strong line-ups, but in truth, it’s hard to look past Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) if we had to pick someone to lead the field home.  East Down AC’s Brendan Teer will provide an excellent challenge if he makes use of the on the day entry system, but if not, it’ll be down to Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and Martin Melville (Newcastle AC) to fill the podium places.  Behind, Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers), Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) and Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) will be challenging for high placings, while Sam Crawford (East Antrim Harriers), William Marks (Mourne Runners) and Bryan Magee (Larne AC) should all finish well up the field.

The ladies race will bring two of the provinces most in-form ladies to the fore, with Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) set to go head-to-head.  Karen showed her undoubtable class as she claimed victory at the Dublin Half Marathon last month, while Laura has been securing top honours at several races recently.  However, the Mourne Runners new girl’s most impressive performance was her 36:27 10k personal best at the Runher Titanic 10k two weeks ago. 

Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Collette McCourt (DUB Runners), Gillian Logan (Larne AC) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) will contest the final prize-winning place, while Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Niamh Kellett (East Down AC) and Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) will all perform to their usual high standard.

Run for Coach Francis 4 mile Race:
In Magherafelt on Saturday 17th October 2015, a large crowd is expected to turn out in support of Magherafelt Harriers’ Run for Coach Francis 4 mile race, an event set up to raise funds to assist highly respected runner and coach Francis Stewart in his recovery after a serious road traffic collision.  The race will attract a number of high profile athletes, as well as those wanting to compete to show their support for the worthwhile cause.  The race starts at Rainey Old Boys Rugby Club at 11am and entries are available on the day.
UKA British Fell & Hill Relay Championships (England):
On Saturday 17th October 2015, Newcastle AC will be well represented at the UKA British Fell & Hill Relay Championships in the village of Barley, close to the Lancashire town of Burnley in England.  The 2015 event is organised by Clayton-le-Moors Harriers and sponsored by Pete Bland Sports.

Based at the village of Barley, an area of outstanding natural beauty, the competition area takes in the massif of Pendle Hill, which hosts a number of very popular and challenging short, medium and long fell races.  The event will follow the usual UKA British Fell & Hill Relay Championship format of four legs run in succession:  Leg 1 will be a solo leg of approximately 7k with 450m of ascent. Leg 2 is run in pairs and is 15k in distance, with 630m of climb. Leg 3 is a pair’s navigation leg.  This leg will give competitors a choice of routes depending on their perceived running strengths. The solo final leg is 8k with 400m of ascent.

Having not competed in the competition since 2005, Newcastle AC have tactfully selected three teams who will compete well against the UK's top mountain athletes.  The Newcastle AC Men's Open Team will be led out on Leg 1 by the speedy David O'Flaherty.  Last weekend David took a top ten place in the highly competitive Comber Cup Cross Country race.  David Steele and Paul Carlin will take on Leg 2 of the relay event.  The 15k and 630 metres ascent will suit both men. 

David and Paul are due to take on the 35k Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race next weekend and will be in good shape to represent their club to the highest standard. Phil Hodge and John Kelly will use their navigational skills on Leg 3 before newly crowned Northern Ireland Mountain Running Champion Seamus Lynch runs leg four alone.

The County Down club will also enter a Ladies Team.  Having watched their club mates take the prestigious NI & Ulster Road Relay title earlier this month, Vicky Canavan, Patricia McKibbin, Paulette Thomson, Sam McNeilly, Rita Devlin and Debbie Kendall will be keen to continue the clubs good form.

Vicky (Canavan) will take on solo 7k in Leg 1, before Patricia (McKibbin) and Paulette (Thomson) pair up for Leg 2.  Both ladies have impressed in the mountains in 2015 and will be eager to use their strengths over this challenging section to gain ground on their competition.  Northern Ireland international Sam (McNeilly) and recent Ben Nevis debutant Rita (Devlin) will fly the Newcastle AC colours on Leg 3 before Debbie (Kendall), who also ran well at the aforementioned Ben Nevis event, will take the club home in Leg 4.

Back in 2003, the Newcastle AC male veteran’s team produced an excellent display of mountain running to bring a silver medal home to Northern Ireland.  Now in 2015, Deon McNeilly and Eamon McCrickard are the only members of the Newcastle AC squad to have competed in the UKA Fell & Hill Relay Championships before and will no doubt share that experience with the rest of their friends.  Pete Grant, having recently joined the club, will start the veterans off in Leg 1.  Pete has an abundance of experience and will have no problem taking on the 7k with 450 metres of ascent.  Leg 2 will go to Jack O’Hare and Collum Campbell.  Jack ran the Armagh 10 mile road race last weekend in just over the infamous one hour mark.  Having been paired with Jack, Collum will be able to sustain a similar pace as the duo aim to outrun some of the competition prior to the Leg 3 handover.  This is where the experienced Deon McNeilly and Eamon McCrickard will show their navigational skills over the classic Fell terrain.  PJ McCrickard, will run the final 8k solo for Leg 4.
Crossmaglen 10k:
On Sunday 18th October 2015, athletes from across Northern Ireland will take part in the Crossmaglen 10k, a challenging but rewarding event close to the border.  Slieve Gullion Runners man Paddy Hamilton will be the stand-out favourite should he take to the start line.  Following on from his win at last weekend’s Armagh 10 mile road race, it’s hard to look past Paddy here. 

Despite the fact that he is due to race less than 24 hours earlier, Newry City Runners athlete Don Travers may well start, and if he does, it is highly likely that Don will play a prominent part in proceedings.  Sean Goodman (Newry City Runners) and Dermot Winters (Slieve Gullion Runners) will also go well, while Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC), Liosa McKeown (Gym Tech) and Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) could feature in the ladies race.

Oisin McGrath 5k & 10k:
In Belcoo on Sunday 18th October 2015, hundreds of runners and fitness enthusiasts will take to the roads for the Oisin McGrath 5k and 10k races, two races set up to raise funds for the Oisin McGrath Foundation (

The organisation formed in memory of 13 year old Oisín McGrath, a keen sportsman, who sadly lost his life in February 2015.  All proceeds will be distributed to promote Organ Donation Awareness, Brain Stem and Brain Injury Research and local Youth Sports Development projects.  The race will start at 1pm and entries are available on the day.

Autumn Open XC (Ireland):
On Sunday 18th October 2015, a host of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Autumn Open XC in Phoenix Park, Dublin (Ireland), an event which will be used as the trials to select the Ireland team for the British & Irish International XC, which will be held in November; incidentally, it will take place at Santry, in Dublin.

Last year at the British & Irish event, North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Elliot, a well-respected age category athlete, excelled, and he’ll be hoping to secure his place once again.  Paul will be joined by the likes of Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Christy McMonagle (City of Derry AC) and Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers).

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Paddy Hamilton and Heather Foley win Armagh 10 mile Road Race:

Adidas Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2015:

On Sunday 11th October 2015, over three hundred athletes descended on the Orchard County of Armagh for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race, an event which starts and finishes at the Navan Centre, just outside the City Centre.

Being just two weeks before the Dublin Marathon, this event has always proved popular with those hoping for a final ‘tune up’ race prior to the 26.2 mile race in Ireland’s capital City. Incidentally, it was a man who has performed well at the aforementioned Dublin Marathon, who excelled here – Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) led from start to finish as he impressed with a 51:49 clocking for 1st place.  East Down AC’s Brendan Teer followed in 53:25 (2nd place), before 2014 Champion Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) continued his return from injury with a podium spot; Paul crossed the line in 55:16 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Heather Foley (Unattached) brought her recent good form in triathlon/duathlon onto the roads, as she claimed an excellent victory.  The Commonwealth Games star covered the distance in 1:01:38 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith secured the runners up prize in 1:02:03 (2nd place), while Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) completed the ladies top three in 1:03:22 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 51:49, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 53:25, 3rd Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 55:16

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 1:01:38, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:02:03, 3rd Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) – 1:03:22

Full Results:  Adidas Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2015 Results

Mark McKinstry and Jessica Craig win Athletics NI XC League opener:

Comber Cup XC 2015:

On Saturday 10th October 2015, hundreds of athletes turned out for the first race of the 2015/16 Athletics Northern Ireland XC league, the Comber Cup XC, which was hosted by one of Northern Ireland’s oldest running clubs, Ballydrain Harriers.

Since the race’s return to the fixture list two years ago, it’s grown in popularity, and this year once again proved that, with 360 athletes taking part in the senior/veteran races.  The extensive race programme, which included several competitive but enjoyable junior races, kicked off at 12pm and finished with the prestigious John McKeag Cup and Comber Cup races. The Men’s race (Comber Cup) measured 8k, while the Ladies and Vet60+ Men’s event covered 6k.

In a close men’s race, which saw Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and newly crowned NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) all contest top spot, it was still improving Mark McKinstry who stole the show.  Putting his early summer niggles behind him, Mark produced a classy showing, moving clear of the field as the race progressed to win in 26:18 (1st place).  Another man getting back to his best following injury, Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), a former XC Champion, took 2nd place in 26:24.  In 3rd place was Foyle Valley AC man Scott Rankin (26:28), which was enough to steer his team to the Comber Cup trophy.

The ladies event was also a closely contest affair in the early stages, but as the race moved on, the in-form Jessica Craig (North Down AC) excelled. Following on from her win at the Runher 5k, Jessica secured victory in 22:49 (1st place).  Newcastle AC’s Joanne Mills followed in 23:02 (2nd place); Rachel Gibson not only claimed 3rd place in 23:07.  In the team competition, which saw the John McKeag Cup presented, the host club Ballydrain Harriers took top honours.

Top 3 Men (8k):  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:18, 2nd Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) – 26:24, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 26:28

Top 3 Ladies (6k):  1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 22:49, Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) – 23:02, 3rd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 23:07

Full Results:  Comber Cup XC 2015 Results - Comber Cup XC Junior Races 2015 Results

Seamus Lynch and Shileen O'Kane crowned NIMRA Champions:

NIMRA Championship final standings released:

This week, the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA), officially released the final standings of this year’s Podium 4 Sport sponsored NIMRA Championship.  Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch and Lagan Valley AC’s Shileen O’Kane were crowned Champions of the nine race Series, which included a mixture of short, medium and long distance events, one of which was the Seven Seven’s, which doubled up as Northern Ireland’s representative race for the British Fell Running Championship Series.

Northern Ireland and Ireland international Seamus Lynch was dominant throughout the Series, winning every race that he entered – namely Glenariff, Donard-Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Loughshannagh and Flagstaff to Carlingford.  

Seamus will be joined on the prize-giving stage by Mourne Runners duo Sam Herron and Clive Bailey, who finished in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Clive will also pick up the Vet40 award, while Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) tops the Vet45 standings and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) the Vet50 award.  BARF’s Jim Brown impressed throughout the season and will be rewarded with the Vet55 prize – the evergreen pair of Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners) and Jim Patterson (BARF) also topped their tables, with Stewart winning the Vet60 category and Jim the Vet65 category.

Like her male counterpart, Shileen O’Kane secured five victories en-route to the prestigious Championship prize.  Shileen won in Glenariff, Donard-Commedagh, Annalong Horseshoe, Flagstaff to Carlingford and the Spelga Skyline; the Lagan Valley AC lady also backed this up with runners up spots at the Fallows and Loughshannagh.  Diane Wilson secured 2nd place in the overall standings, having picked up wins at Loughshannagh, Slieve Bearnagh and the Fallows.  

Jacqueline Toal (BARF) completed the top three ladies after enjoying an excellent season after returning from injury.  Jacqueline, who won the recent Causeway Coast Ultra, will also collect the Vet40 award, while Shileen will be awarded the Vet45 category prize.  Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) was the only other age category winner, taking the Vet55 title.

In the team standings, Mourne Runners will have the bragging rights for the next twelve months as they have secured top spot (1st place), while Newcastle AC and the always well represented Ballymena Runners take 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Two ladies teams completed the required amount of events and it will be Lagan Valley AC who pick up the prize for 1st place, with Newcastle AC taking 2nd place.

The prize-giving will be held on Friday 6th November 2015.  A complete set of results and a breakdown of points is available on the NIMRA website HERE.

Weekend Preview:  Comber Cup XC kicks off Athletics NI XC League...

Weekend Preview:  Athletes look forward to XC season opener…

It’s that time of year again (despite the last week of decent weather attempting to fool us into thinking we’re back in Summer), when the muck loving junkies lace up their spikes and get their fix of one of the sport’s most traditional types of running, something that pretty much everyone has tried (be it through choice, or as punishment at school) – CROSS COUNTRY!

This weekend brings the Comber XC, the first race of the 2015/16 Athletics NI Cross Country League.  For the road runners, and particularly many who are training for the upcoming Dublin Marathon, there is also the popular Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race to look forward too.  In France, at least two local athletes will take on events at the European Masters Athletics Championships.

Comber Cup XC:

On Saturday 10th October 2015, Comber based running club Ballydrain Harriers will host their annual Comber Cup XC event, which will once again kick off the popular Athletics NI Cross Country League.

Following the reintroduction of this very old race for the coveted silver Comber Cup trophy two years ago, Ballydrain Harriers have successfully stamped its fantastic reputation; a new course layout and various other additions have enhanced the exciting race programme for the competitors and spectators.  

The dominant North Belfast Harriers currently hold the Comber Cup after seeing off the challenge of 2013 winners Newcastle AC. This year, a major addition to race day will be the inaugural staging of the John McKeag Cup.  John McKeag is well-known in running circles and a stalwart of Ballydrain Harriers.  He (John) was a Champion XC runner for Ballydrain Harriers and at 93 years of age is still attending and supporting the club at many races. The John McKeag Cup will be presented to the best ladies team on the day, just as the Comber Cup is presented to the leading male team. 

The extensive race programme will kick off at 12pm, with races for athletes of all ages - from Primary School to Veteran competitors, organisers have stressed that everyone is welcome to come and try out the unique cross country course which will be laid out.  The ladies McKeag Cup race will start at 1.30pm and the men’s Comber Cup race will start at 2:15pm. 

East Down AC’s Brendan Teer, a former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion, should return to defend the title he won so impressively twelve months ago.  If he does race, Brendan could line up against the two men who joined him on the podium, Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers).  Allan was in good form at last weekend’s Slieve Gallion Mountain Race, which he won, while Mark has enjoyed an excellent year.  The Northern Ireland international cross country star has helped North Belfast Harriers to several NI & Ulster Championship medals, most recently the NI & Ulster Senior Men’s Relay gold.  Mark is likely to head a strong North Belfast Harriers side which could also include Andrew Annett, Adam Boyd, John Black and Tommy Simmons, amongst others.  

Newly confirmed NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) will also be worth watching and may well be backed up by several club mates, including David Steele, David McNeilly and David O’Flaherty.  Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), James Budde (North Down AC), Darrell McKee (Acorns AC) and Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) should all start.

In the ladies race, Martsje Hell could lead the North Belfast Harriers team, which may also include Gladys Ganiel O’Neill and Louise Smith.  The Belfast ladies could face the Newcastle AC ladies who pipped them to the Senior Ladies title at last weekend’s NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships, with Mari Troeng and Joanne Mills also being potential starters.  

Their club mate, Sam McNeilly, will also be there or there abouts.  Runher 5k winner, Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) and Springwell Running Club’s Sonia Knox will also play a part, as will Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) and Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners).

European Masters Athletics Championships:

Also on Saturday 10th October 2015, at least Northern Ireland based athletes will be in action at the European Masters Athletics Championships in Nice, France.  Cathy McCourt and Paula Wallace, both of North Belfast Harriers, have impressed in their respective 5,000m and 1500m events, with Cathy securing bronze and Paula clocking a new personal best.  The ladies will now take to the start line of the 10k road race.

Armagh Adidas 10 mile Road Race:

On Sunday 11th October 2015, hundreds of runners from across Northern Ireland will travel to Armagh (County Armagh) for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race, which starts and finishes within the vicinity of the Navan Centre, just outside the City Centre.

The course, and the event in general is very popular, especially with those training for Dublin Marathon and is usually treated by many as their final 'hard' outing before the 26.2 mile event, which takes place on Monday 26th October 2015.

Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) will go into the race as pre-race favourite, and considering the former Annadale Striders athlete has a personal best of 49:35, it’s hard to look past him. Recently, Paddy claimed third place at the Belfast City Half Marathon, after covering the new flat and fast route in 1:09:09.  Willowfield Harriers man Brian Campbell will also be considered a contender should he enter on the day.  Brian has impressed throughout, particularly over the slightly longer half marathon distance. He returned to action at last weekend’s NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships follow a minor injury - alongside club mates Paul Rowan, Chris Moran and Neill Weir, Brian picked up the Masters Men’s title in what was an excellent race.  

Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), who incidentally clocked the fastest leg of the Masters event at the aforementioned Relay Championships, may also compete.  Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Lindsay Gordon (Meadowmill Project), Dermot Kerr (Armagh AC), Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and Gerard Heaney (St Peter's AC) will all finish well up the field.

Local athlete Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) would prove to be a very popular winner of this event, and in truth, if the Northern Ireland international is in form, and that is a real possibility.  Last year, it took an excellent performance by Irish Olympian Maria McCambridge to stop her.  Danielle recorded 1:00:13 for the runners up spot, and this time around, we would expect her to dip under the one hour barrier, which should be enough to secure victory.  

North Belfast Harriers’ Breege Connolly may also compete and will provide stiff opposition for Danielle – especially coming off a superb outing at the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships last week, where she came so close to catching the Newcastle AC ladies in the final leg of the Senior Ladies race.  Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Mary Laverty (North East Runners), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Helen Stockdale (Derry City Track Club) will all go well if they race.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Cathy McCourt secures bronze at European Masters Championships:

European Masters Athletics Championships 2015:

On Monday 5th October 2015, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) added another notable achievement to her impressive running CV, whilst in action at the European Masters Athletics Championships in Nice, France.

Whilst competing in the 5,000m race, Cathy played a major part at the front and despite feeling the effects of a recent niggle, the ever consistent athlete battled well to secure 3rd place in 19:52. The race was won by Czech Republic’s Renata Hajkova in 19:05 (1st place).  Cathy will now line up alongside North Belfast Harriers club mate Paula Wallace in the 10k road race on Saturday 10th October 2015.

Local athletes impress at Monaghan Marathon events:

Monaghan Marathon Events (Ireland):

Over the weekend (Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October 2015), there were a number of local athletes in action at the Monaghan Marathon in Monaghan Town, Ireland.  The event, which has proved popular with Northern Ireland based athletes over the past few years, also included Half Marathon and back to back Marathons.  

In the headline 26.2 mile race, Unattached athlete Mark Walker continued to impress over the distance with a 2nd place finish.  Mark recorded 2:55:11 to finish behind race winner Ger Copeland (Dublin Bay Running Club), who won in 2:52:03 (1st place).  East Antrim Marathon Series organiser Craig Mills also claimed a top ten finish, after crossing the line in 3:31:18 (10th place).  

In the Half Marathon event, NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) took top spot in 1:17:21 (1st place).  Finn Valley AC’s Donna Evans sealed the ladies title in 1:32:38 (1st place), while Enniskillen Running Club’s Irene Clements also claimed a podium place, after clocking 1:38:41 for 3rd place.  

In the back to back marathons, familiar faces dominated the ladies podium and the top ten overall.  On Day 1, Breda McFadden (Monaghan Town Runners), Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) and Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) crossed the line in 3:36:08 (1st place lady), 3:39:33 (2nd place lady) and 3:43:33 (3rd place lady) respectively.  Meanwhile, Larne AC’s Thomas Craig took 10th place overall in 3:31:54.  On Day 2, Breda ran 3:34:49 (1st place lady), while Fran finished in 3:34:58 (2nd place lady) and Natalie 3:52:39 (3rd place lady), therefore completing their clean sweep ladies podium.  Thomas moved up the ranks on Day 2, securing 8th place overall in 3:37:39.  For full results, including details on the performances of other Northern Ireland based athlete, please see the results link below.

Full Results:  Monaghan Marathon Events 2015 Results

Eoin Lennon claims impressive victory and course record in Glencoe:

Wildfox Glencoe Marathon (Scotland):

On Sunday 4th October 2015, two Scotland based Northern Ireland athletes were in action at the challenging Wildfox Glencoe Marathon events in Scotland.  Scottish Ultra trail running Champion and Irish International athlete Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) took to the startline of the Marathon, while Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) completed the Half Marathon.  

The stunning marathon course started in the scenic loch-side village of Glencoe, before taking athletes to the infamous climb known as the ‘Devils Staircase’, where they descended into Kinlochleven.  Competitors then departed the picturesque highland village and climbed sharply onto the West Highland Way, and onwards to the more gentle slopes in the Glen Nevis region of Fortwilliam – here they were in the shadows of the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.  The off-road 26.2 mile route incorporated approximately 1,000 metres of ascent.  

Eoin went into the event high in confidence following a comprehensive victory at the recent Helensburgh Athletic Club supported ‘From Hel’n Back’ 12k Mountain-Trail Race, and that showed as he powered his way to an excellent win, knocking fifteen minutes off the course record as he broke the tape in 3:18:06 (1st place).  In the Half Marathon event, which started at the aforementioned Kinlochlevin, the ever improving Aisling Allum secured 5th place in 2:01:18.  Interestingly, Aisling’s time would have been enough to see her win the event in 2014.  The highly competitive ladies race was won by Denise Main (Club Unknown) in 1:53:27 (1st place).

Full Results:  Wildfox Glencoe Marathon Events 2015 Results

Laura Graham and Jessica Craig excel as 1,600 turn out for Runher Titanic:

Runher Titanic 2015:

On Sunday 4th October 2015, approximately 1,600 athletes took on the Runher Titanic 10k and 5k events in the ever growing Titanic Quarter of Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast.  As always, the ladies only event attracted an excellent mixture of well-known athletes right through to those taking on their first ever ‘race’.

In the 10k race, the most recent NiRunning ‘Runner Profile’ Laura Graham (Unattached) continued her build up to the Dublin Marathon with another excellent performance.  The NI & Ulster Half Marathon silver medallist cruised to victory, breaking the tape in a massive new personal best of 36:29 (1st place). England based Hannah Oldroyd (UK Netrunner) secured 2nd place in 38:05 (2nd place), while Runher regular Julie Balmer (North Down AC) continued her return to competition with an excellent run for 3rd place, after recording 42:57 for the distance.

North Down AC ladies Jessica Craig and Jodi Smith showed no signs of fatigue following their impressive team bronze medal winning performances at the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships just 24 hours earlier as they led the charge for the ladies title.  Jessica ran out clear winner in 18:29 (1st place). Jodi clocked 19:28 for 2nd place, while Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) completed the top three ladies in 20:21 (3rd place).

10k Race:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Unattached) – 36:29, 2nd Hannah Oldroyd (UK Netrunner) – 38:05, 3rd Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 42:57

5k Race:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 18:29, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 19:28, 3rd Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) – 20:21

Full Results:  Runher 10k 2015 Results and Runher 5k 2015 Results

Scott Rankin and Catherine Whoriskey win Marty's 5k:

Marty’s 5k Race 2015:

On Sunday 4th October 2015, almost one thousand athletes descended on the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry/Londonderry for the annual Marty’s 5k Race, an event hosted by Foyle Valley AC as a fitting tribute to their late club mate Martin Gallagher.

As expected, the purple vests of the host club featured prominently, and it was two of their members, Scott Rankin and Chris McGuinness, who excelled.  There wasn’t much between the pair as they negotiated the 3.1 mile route, but in the end, it was Scott who edged it, breaking the tape in 15:16 (1st place).  Chris followed in 15:29 (2nd place), before City of Derry AC man Fintan Stewart completed the top three in 15:50 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, City of Derry AC frontrunner Catherine Whoriskey once again showed her class. The Waterside Half Marathon winner was a dominant force at the front and secured a clear victory when she recorded 17:30 (1st place) for top spot.  Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) continued her good recent run of form with another podium place, when she claimed the runners up prize in 18:56 (2nd place). Gemma’s club mate, Katherine Woods (Springwell Running Club) sealed 3rd place in 19:57 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:16, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:29, 3rd Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC) – 15:50

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 17:30, 2nd Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 18:56, 3rd Katherine Woods (Springwell Running Club) – 19:57

Full Results:  Marty’s 5k Race 2015 Results

Allan Bogle and Lorna Sibbett claim top honours at Slieve Gallion:

Slieve Gallion Mountain Race 2015:

On Saturday 3rd October 2015, a small but enthusiastic group of mountain runners turned out for the Slieve Gallion Mountain Race, close to Moneymore in the heart of the picturesque Sperrin Mountains.

The revised course covered approximately 4.3 miles in distance, with 350 metres of accumulative ascent.  International mountain runner Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) returned to competition with an impressive display – the Spartan athlete covered the testing route in 33:05 (1st place) and was followed a short time later by Ballymena Runners’ in-form Alex Brennan, who clocked 33:42 (2nd place). Acorns AC man Jonathan Dempsey completed the podium in 36:07 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, it was Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) who impressed most.  Lorna, usually better known for her exploits on the road, looked at home on the more 'runnable' course, excelling to lead the ladies home in 43:54 (1st place).  Shauna Young (Acorns AC) crossed the line in 48:37 (2nd place), before Eibhlin Largey (Omagh Harriers) recorded 50:21 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 33:05, 2nd Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) – 33:42, 3rd Jonathan Dempsey (Acorns AC) – 36:07

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) – 43:54, 2nd Shauna Young (Acorns AC) – 48:37, 3rd Eibhlin Largey (Omagh Harriers) – 50:21

Full Results:  Slieve Gallion Mountain Race 2015 Results

Orangegrove AC host successful NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships:

NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2015:

On Saturday 3rd October 2015, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on Victoria Park, Belfast for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, an exceptionally well organised event hosted by popular East Belfast club Orangegrove AC.  The event also incorporated the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Road Relay Championships.

The exciting race programme kicked off with a number of junior races, which proved to be both fun and competitive; supporters were treated to some impressive performances, highlighting the up and coming talent within the province. There were notable wins for Emily Thornton (Willowfield Harriers), Christopher Brown (Beechmount Harriers), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Tim Scott (Lagan Valley AC), Rebecca Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Craig McMeechan (North Down AC).

After the aforementioned junior events had warmed things up for the senior and master’s races, it was indeed the turn of the Masters Ladies to take to the start line.  The teams consisted of three athletes, with each covering 3 x 3,380m each.  Ann Terek put pre-race favourites City of Lisburn AC on the front foot as she set off at a relentless pace.  Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Geraldine Branagh (North Belfast Harriers) also put their respective clubs in a good position as they handed over to club mates.  

There was no stopping the City of Lisburn AC as Diane Watson took on the second leg and set up World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely for the final leg.  Despite a valiant effort from North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith, Kelly powered around the two lap course, covering the 3,380 metres in 11:35 (fastest Masters Lady) to secure victory for City of Lisburn AC in a record breaking time of 36:38 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers took 2nd place in 37:21, while an exceptional final leg by Sharon Leetch was enough to ensure that Ballymena Runners claimed the final podium spot in 37:51 (3rd place), just three seconds ahead of Ballydrain Harriers (4th place – 37:54).

Next up was the Masters Men, with their teams of four athletes completing 3.380m each.  The athletes set off at a blistering pace and it was the in-form Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) who completed the two laps first, handing over the reins to Tommy Simmons, with Willowfield Harriers and Ballydrain Harriers in pursuit.  

During the second leg, things changed, with Neill Weir guiding Willowfield Harriers into the driving seat and Ben Morrow bringing Ballymena Runners into play.  As the race progressed, the star-studded Willowfield Harriers team of Brian Campbell, Neill Weir, Paul Rowan and Chris Moren, began to assert themselves at the head of the pack and went into the final leg with Chris Moren leading the way. North Belfast Harriers were counting on Alan O’Hara to cement second, while Ballymena Runners handed over to Richard Agnew with high hopes of holding onto third place.  

This was indeed the case, with things unchanged as the competitors reached the atmospheric finish area – Chris Moren sealed it for Willowfield Harriers in an overall time of 41:51 (1st place), while North Belfast Harriers took 2nd place in 42:40.  Ballymena Runners’ men matched their ladies finishing position as they claimed 3rd place in 43:17.  Interestingly, Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan, the final leg runner for his team, clocked the fastest time of the Masters Men’s race with 10:05!  

The penultimate race of the day brought the Senior Ladies to the fore, with the teams of three again completing 3,380m each.  As expected, pre-race favourites Newcastle AC and North Belfast Harriers contested top spot – However, that was only after Banbridge AC’s Emma Mitchell had battled it out with the Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) in the first leg.  

Kerry led into the changeover and handed over to Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) who continued to drive the County Down team towards victory. Behind, Martsje Hell brought North Belfast Harriers into second place, following on from the good work of starter Gladys Ganiel O'Neill.  On the final handover, Mari Troeng set off first for Newcastle AC, with nearly a minute between herself and Bangor 10k Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers).  The strong Dromore AC and North Down AC teams were battling for the final podium place as Rebekah Nixon and Rachel Gibson went into the final 3,380m.  After one lap of the final leg, Breege had closed the gap on the always impressive Mari by forty seconds, she (Breege) was now approximately twenty seconds behind; this set things up for an epic finish.  

Despite her best efforts, Breege was unable to catch Mari, who ran into the finish to loud cheers from her club mates who had lined the finishing straight.  Mari crossed the line as the clock read 34:30 (1st place).  Breege followed just seven seconds later in 34:37 (2nd place), while the fast finishing Rachel Gibson secured 3rd place for North Down AC in 35:23.

In the final race of an excellent day of competition, the Senior Men lined up for their 4 x 3,380m event.  The first leg proved to be the closest of the day, with at least four teams in the mix – Paddy Robb led St Malachy’s AC into the changeover first, with North Belfast Harriers, East Down AC and Newcastle AC all in contention.  However, as the second leg progressed, there was a full swap in positions, with East Down AC taking charge and North Belfast Harriers and St Malachy’s AC in pursuit.  That wasn’t the end of the position swapping, because as Andrew Annett went into the final leg for North Belfast Harriers, East Down AC had dropped back and it was now Derry City Track Club, North Down AC and the young team from St Malachy’s AC who were chasing the medals.

After an excellent final leg, it was versatile Northern Ireland and Ireland international Andrew Annett who secured victory for his North Belfast Harriers team, which also contained Adam Boyd, Mark McKinstry and Conal McCambridge – Andrew crossed the line in 40:29 (1st place).  St Malachy’s AC took a well-deserved 2nd place in 41:21, while James Budde ensured a podium place for North Down AC in 41:31 (3rd place).

Podium Places:

Top 3 Masters Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m):  1st City of Lisburn AC – 36:38, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 37:21, 3rd Ballymena Runners - 37:51

Top 3 Masters Masters Men’s Teams (4 x 3,380m):  1st Willowfield Harriers – 41:51, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 42:40, 3rd Ballymena Runners – 43:17

Top 3 Senior Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m):  1st Newcastle AC – 34:30, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 34:37, 3rd North Down AC – 35:23

Top 3 Senior Men’s teams (4 x 3,380m):  1st North Belfast Harriers – 40:29, 2nd St Malachy’s AC – 41:21, 3rd North Down AC – 41:31

Full Results:  NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2015 Results.  Photos from the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships are now available within the Photo Gallery on our website.

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from September 2015, you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to September 2015) or click HERE.

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